Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)
Dear PWCS Families, Employees, and Community:
On Wednesday evening, I shared the proposed PWCS Fiscal Year 2023 Budget with our School Board and stakeholders. This is the budget that will fund our schools starting July 2022 through June 2023. It follows through on our commitment to align our investments with the priorities and outcomes outlined in the PWCS Vision 2025, Launching Thriving Futures Strategic Plan, which was approved by the School Board this week.
Strong economic conditions, both at the state level and in Prince William County, have resulted in our school division budget increasing 14% over Fiscal Year 2022. Because of this favorable funding increase, we will reach above 2009 per-pupil funding levels for the first time in the past 12 years (adjusted for inflation). This increase enables us to make significant investments focused on supporting our students, staff, and schools.
I am most proud that this budget invests $61 million to provide our employees with a 4.2% cost-of-living adjustment and a step increase, resulting in an average pay increase of 7% for most employees. This is the largest year-over-year salary increase in at least a decade and is an acknowledgement that our teachers, instructional staff, administrators, bus drivers, custodians, food service staff, nurses, and all our support employees are crucial to our students’ future success.
Additionally, the budget includes an additional $20 million to make market-based improvements to certified/instructional and classified employee pay scales. This means some employees will receive more than a 7% increase, and as result of these adjustments, PWCS salaries will be more competitive.
In total, the budget invests nearly $10 million in additional special education resources. This includes the addition of 100 full-time special education assistants and 13 assistive technology specialists. These experts are critical to supporting student voice and engagement in the classroom. The proposal includes the addition of 88 full-time kindergarten teaching assistants to support the critical development of early learners.
In support of families, the budget includes the addition of 35 parent liaisons, with the long-term goal of having at least one parent liaison in every school over the next four years. This budget also includes five additional social worker positions, and additional language translations support. To support students and families with post-secondary planning, including college, career and technical education opportunities, the budget adds 15 career counselors.
Having safe and healthy schools is fundamental. In support of this, the budget proposes the hiring of 29 security specialists along with infrastructure upgrades of cameras and emergency systems. It also includes the hiring of an additional 14 nurses to further bolster this critical role and reduce high student/nurse ratios.
The proposal also includes funding for the PWCS Capital Improvements Program (CIP) that focuses on the need for new facilities and additions to address growth. The CIP also funds multiple renovation projects and advances PWCS sustainability goals.
The budget funds the resources needed at the central level to operate more efficiently and effectively in support of schools to advance academic progress. As the largest employer in Prince William County, recruiting, onboarding, and supporting employees require an adequate number of human resources, finance, and support staff to provide timely and systematic support.
There are multiple opportunities for stakeholders to hear more about the proposed budget and provide feedback. The School Board will consider approval of the budget on March 16. The Board of County Supervisors will consider the budget before May 1.
Before closing, I want to acknowledge two important groups who contribute to the well-being of our students. First, Feb. 7 to 11 is National School Counseling Week. Thank you to all our school counselors, who work extremely hard to ensure the wellness needs of our students are being met. And finally, Feb. 9 is School Crossing Guard Appreciation Day. Thank you so much for protecting our students on their journey to and from school.
LaTanya D. McDade, Ed.D.Superintendent Prince William County Public Schools